Higher Education Reputation in the United Kingdom

British higher education has a strong international reputation, with over half of international students citing this as one of the main factors in deciding to study in the UK (compared to 22 percent of international students studying in Canada, 21 percent in Australia and 15 percent in the US). London has also been ranked as the best city in the world for students. However, a number of universities, including Cambridge, UCL and the LSE, have warned that Brexit poses a reputational risk for UK universities, and there are also fears about the impact of the government's immigration and visa policy.

Domestic rankings of universities in the UK were first introduced in 1993 by The Times Good University Guide. Today, there are three main domestic league tables published by The Times and Sunday Times, The Guardian, and the Complete University Guide. Each year since 2008, Times Higher Education has compiled a "Table of Tables" to combine the results of the 3 mainstream league tables. In the 2018 table, the top 5 universities were the University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, University of St Andrews, Imperial College London and Durham University.

In the 2018 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Oxford was placed 1st, Cambridge 2nd and Imperial 8th; while the 2018 top 50 also included UCL at 16th, LSE at 25th, Edinburgh at 27th, and King's College London at 36th. A further 5 UK universities (12 in total) rank in the top 100. Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial have been consistently ranked in the top 10 on this table.

In the QS World University Rankings, Cambridge (5th in 2019), Oxford (6th), Imperial (8th), and UCL (10th), are consistently present in the top ten. Edinburgh (18th), Manchester (2th), King's College London (31st), and LSE (38th) also make the top 50 and a further 10 UK universities (18 total) make the top 100.

The Academic Ranking of World Universities also places Cambridge (3rd in 2017) and Oxford (7th) consistently in the world top ten. University College London (16th), Imperial College London (27th), the University of Edinburgh (32nd), the University of Manchester (38th), and King's College London (46th) also make the top 50 and 3 more UK universities (9 total) are in the top 100.

In specific subject rankings, UK universities have performed well with a quarter of all top rankings taken by British Universities in the QS 2017 rankings. The University of Oxford is rated top in most subjects among British universities, with the Royal College of Art first in the world for art and design, the Institute of Education, part of University College London, for education, University of Sussex for Development Studies and Loughborough University for Sports-related subjects.